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AAA: Busiest holiday travel & Americans spend $165 on Thanksgiving

From our family to yours...Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a day to be grateful — and, of course, giving. But you may not feel so festive "giving" to the supermarket, the airline and the gas station.

Thanksgiving will cost the average American $165 this year, including food and travel expenses, according to a new survey by LendEdu. The poll surveyed 1,000 Americans who plan to celebrate the holiday. Around 40 percent of that price tag — or $68 — will be spent on travel, such as plane tickets and hotel rooms.

Planning to travel this holiday week? If so, you are not alone.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is estimating that this year, we will see the most Thanksgiving travel in 12 years. More than 50 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles over Thanksgiving week/weekend. Nearly 89 percent of those travelers are expected to be going by car. Those traveling this year represent 15% of the country’s population.

Their travel probably won't be cheap though. Automobile traffic is spiking at a time when gas prices are rising, and the cost of renting a car in some places averages $70 a day- 34% higher than last year. Those flying to their destination, however, may have booked a cheaper Thanksgiving trip than usual. According to AAA, the average cost for round-trip flights was the lowest in five years.

Regardless, travelers heading to the airport by car or to their final destination on the road will endure a stunning amount of traffic. According to AAA’s estimation of traffic conditions in the 10 most congested cities in the United States, here’s exactly what days and times you should avoid, as well as how much longer it will take you if you have no other option:

  • Chicago – Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (3x longer)

  • San Francisco – Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. (2.5x longer)

  • Los Angeles – Tuesday from 3:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. (2.5x longer)

  • Boston – Tuesday from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. (2.5x longer)

  • New York – Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (2x longer)

  • Washington, D.C. – Tuesday from 4:45 to 6 p.m. (2x longer)

  • Seattle – Tuesday from 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (2x longer)

  • Atlanta – Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m (2x longer)

  • Houston – Wednesday from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. (1x longer)

  • Detroit – Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (1x longer)

Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations

Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.

  1. Orlando, Florida

  2. Anaheim, California

  3. New York City, New York

  4. Honolulu, Hawaii

  5. Las Vegas, Nevada

  6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  7. Cancun, Mexico

  8. San Francisco, California

  9. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

  10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida


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